The Lansdowne Farmers Market is starting to feel like a regular part of our lives again. We have begun turning down Saturday morning invitations so we can hang out at the Market. The four hours fly by really fast as we catch up with friends and neighbors, and tap our feet - okay, well, maybe we dance a little too - to the tunes by our guest musicians. And, of course, we also wander up and down the market, letting our eyes and noses do the choosing among a wide selection of produce, prepared foods, and other delightful offerings.
Well, spring took its sweet old time getting here this year. The cold, hard winter meant that maple trees tapped in January didn't start running their sap until March. Oh, but when they did, the 800 all-natural maples up at Ridge Valley Farm started delivering their bounty and the maple sugaring season commenced.
That means maple syrup and other goodies return to the Market this week, with Sue Myers reporting that she'll have 100% maple syrup in every size, ranging from half pints to gallons. (Yes, you can purchase gallons. You know, in case you really need to stock up for the zombie apocalypse or a huge family reunion...or you really, really like maple syrup.) Don't know whether to choose Grade A (golden colored and delicate flavor) or Grade B (darker color and stronger flavor)? She'll have samples on hand.
Please don't go looking for any "sugar-free maple syrup," however. As Sue points out, there is no such thing (though she's been asked many times). Maples produce sap that contains sugar. Period. Anything labeled as "sugar-free maple syrup" is playing fast and loose with the truth. And, no, the syrup does not flow directly from the trees when you turn on the spigot. It's interesting how some people think we get food, isn't it?
Ridge Valley will be selling maple-coated walnuts and pecans, maple granola (with and without fruit), snack mix, maple jelly and maple apple jam (who knew?), and maple creams and maple sugar candies. Sue said she'll also have maple sugar, the dip-a-ripe-strawberry-into-evaporated-and-crystalized-maple-sap kind of sugar. You can use the maple sugar as a replacement for part of the white sugar in recipes; Sue likes to do use it with half white sugar to balance the stronger taste of the maple sugar. Here are some tips on how to use maple sugar instead of white sugar in recipes.
The backstory: Sue's husband Jim started tapping trees on their Sumneytown, Montgomery County property about 20 years ago, making syrup as a hobby in a sugar house he built himself. Pretty soon, he ramped up production from personal holiday gifts to making maple products full time, leaving his fire extinguisher industry career behind. Ridge Valley visits the market just four times this year, so if you can't make it this Saturday (and you really should!), mark your calendar for their return on July 11, August 8, and October 10.
Don't Fear the Rhubarb
Rhubarb: it's right in season and it's not just for dessert any more. This blush-colored stalky vegetable gives a delightful sour/tart balance to sweets like strawberries and other seasonal fruits but it also has a life outside of pies and jams. For instance, this rhubarb-braised chicken thighs recipe has just right amount of savory, but with a dab of honey (pick some up at Fruitwood Orchards' tent!), the tang of orange juice, and the spike of ginger. And, okay, you MAY, if you have to, explore rhubarb's decidedly sweet side with these rhubarb almond bars. The season is short, so get 'em while you can.
Lights! Camera! Action!
Filming in front of a theater?? Well, you can join in just for such a meta moment on June 13 at 11:00 a.m. when the Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation will be shooting a brief crowd scene outside the theater. The video is for an upcoming crowd-funding campaign and the photo is for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "This Place Matters" campaign. It will take just 5 to 10 minutes of your time, so it's only part of your lifetime guaranteed allotment of 15 minutes of fame. Grab your friends and neighbors to help make the crowd even bigger.
Cherries are in Season!
Cherries are coming to the Frecon Farms tent. Steve Frecon promises two kinds: chelan, which is a deep mahogany cherry with firm, round heart-shaped fruits, and van, a deep ruby red fruit similar to the bing variety but firmer. We will be eating them out of hand, most definitely before we leave the market. Recipes? Well, we'll worry about that after we get the red stains off our fingers.
The Weekly Lineup
From the produce vendors expect more greens, some squashes (pattypan squash went like THAT last week from Fruitwood Orchards' tables), a few more strawberries, rhubarb (see above), lettuces, and more. Along with its regular selection of artisanal sausages, Freeland Market promises to sell its wild ramp and pork sausages, a short-lived and seasonal favorite.
The nonweekly vendors include Amazing Acres Goat Dairy, Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters, Paradocx Vineyards, Seventh Avenue Grill, Uncle Harold's Snacks, and Vera Pasta.
Our visiting vendors are the Essential Herbalist and, of course, Ridge Valley Farm (see above).
Need the deets before you get our newsletter (or after if you've shamefully trashed it before making note of who will be at the Market this week), just visit our Schedules page.
The June 27 Community Day application, available here, is due back by THIS Saturday, June 13. So this is effectively last call for these things. Confirmations will go out starting early next week.
Don't forget to pot up your extra plants for the LFM Plant Exchange on June 20! Label them with names and sun/shade preference and drop them off starting at 8:30 a.m. Between 9:00 and noon, you'll be able to pick a plant in exchange for each one you donated. From noon until Market close, anyone can purchase a plant for $1. Proceeds benefit the Lansdowne Farmers Market as well as diversity in Lansdowne area gardens.
Last week, we were grateful for the help of a few stalwart souls, which included two girls (under age 10) who are longtime pros at helping us set up. Don't let those little whippersnappers fool you -- anyone of any age can help us set up, so if you can join us early (starting at 7:45) or late (we break down at 1 p.m.), we would really appreciate your help!
Come to the Manager tent this Saturday and let us know your favorite find so far this year, and we'll give you a Market Buck. You read about what we like here every week, and now we want to hear what's filling your Market basket these days.
Oh Say Can You See
Sure you can! Since 1904, Lansdowne's Independence Day celebrations have been delighting generations with a day of family activities that starts with a parade through town and ends with a bang after dark at the fireworks show at the Penn Wood High School football field. Equally legendary is the passionate support of the Union Athletic Association of Lansdowne volunteers who make it all possible. They'll be at the Market for the next few weeks, selling tickets and taking donations for this worthy event.
You can also support the Fourth's festivities by attending the UAA Wine Tasting Fundraiser from 3 to 5 p.m. this Sunday, June 14, at the 2312 Garrett pub and restaurant. It's sure to be an educational and delicious event.